"....The truth is out there."
-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
Thursday, December 28, 2006
-- Truth Or Fiction --
Update on the J. Stevenson matter/article :
Responses I've received, often from folks more familiar with Stevenson than am I, run the full gamut of opinion --- half or more lean toward believing Jim's account (but this may only reflect the bias of my readership; the remainder split between those believing the story bogus and those who just aren't sure). There is much in Jim's phrasing and writing style that I too find odd, but can explain away if I focus on the more plausible elements of the account. HOWEVER, there remain several significant aspects (I won't detail here) I've not been able to resolve to my satisfaction, and despite his birding credentials there are major concerns over Jim's credibility in various circles, stemming from prior experiences both in Fla. and TX. Enough doubts linger that I can't presume the authenticity of the claims Jim makes, without corroboration from a 2nd individual.
The very difficulty in substantiating the story is in itself suspicious. This doesn't mean I think it is pure fabrication; it means I don't know what to think, or what could be the purpose in authoring pure fiction on such a divisive topic. I DON'T believe (as some have suggested) that it is intended as satire or humor in any form (though it's possible Jim could claim this in a future confession); nor do I happen to think it is a simple effort at self-aggrandizement as others surmise. And that leaves me with but a very few options for the possible motive, which I also won't detail here. I will however remind folks that Jim is currently embroiled in a legal battle over his shooting of a feral cat, thus making the timing of this story even odder... (why is it released NOW, not after the Kulivan sighting, not after the Cornell announcement, nor even immediately following the Auburn news release, but NOW?).
Jim's father, Henry, was a highly-respected past ornithologist who covered the Ivory-bill in Florida (and saw one in 1950). It is unfortunate that his son has published a piece (and even dragged his father's name into it) which carries such a cloud over it, and now is reluctant to discuss the topic further, despite knowing what a can of worms he is spilling. One would hope for Jim's sake the matter resolves itself in his favor, but I'm not at all confident it will (and if not, being indicted for cat-killing, will be among the least of Jim's infamy). It could take awhile for the truth to emerge, although words from "Phyllis Sandburg" (Sandberg?), or the "top ornithologist" who received Jim's purported feathers, or the museum currently housing said feathers, could pretty quickly resolve the matter (if these principals are still alive) --- I'm not holding my breath...
Luckily, Jim's column, pertaining to IBWOs in the 70's/80's, makes little difference in terms of the Ivory-bill's possible presence in the southeast in 2006-7, but on-the-other-hand, if an outright hoax, it unnecessarily plays into the hands of those who need not be given any further ammo. If more evidence arrives that pushes my opinion in one direction or the other I'll update at that time, if warranted.
...And now, who will be the next contestant on "Truth Or Fiction," ...or ought we just call it "Jeopardy."